This is unbelievable, and surely would never have been possible had the category not been expanded to include ten films, but District 9 – my favorite movie of 2009 – has been rewarded for its awesomeness with a nomination for Best Picture of the Year! Woo! The other Best Picture nominees are Avatar (duh), An Education, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man (not to be confused with A Single Man), Up in the Air (not to be confused with Up, which is also nominated) and The Blindside. Of course, there is no way in hell that the Oscar will go to anything that is not Avatar(d) and maybe possiblyThe Hurt Locker . But it’s so cool that District 9 was even nominated. Now, if only the Academy could have seen their way to nominate Anvil! The Story of Anvil! We would be really rockin’! Congratulations and good luck to all of the nominees!
Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie Star in The Hurt Locker
This past Sunday, Geoffrey and I went to see the “Iraqi bomb squad” movie that everyone is talking about, The Hurt Locker. It’s taken me a couple of days to digest my thoughts, because “intense” is really not strong enough of a word to describe this movie-going experience. And I usually don’t like war movies – the exception being Full Metal Jacket – but I really liked The Hurt Locker, and wanted to blog about it, but was having trouble translating my thoughts into words. This morning I found a really fantastic review of the movie on, of all places, a financial newsletter I read daily at my office job. So I just decided to post that and credit the source, because it’s a really excellent movie and, review-wise, I really couldn’t do any better than this. Review courtesy of Here Is The City.
If your idea of a great night at the movies is biting your fingernails for two hours, The Hurt Locker might just offer the best value for your cinema admission fee. War movies are usually not a barrel of laughs, and The Hurt Locker is not a game changer in this matter. Being the story of a bomb squad stationed in Baghdad, it follows a group American soldiers who are on call for suspiciously parked cars, suicide bombers or pretty much anything found with wires attached to it. Even if you think that yours is the worst job in the world, it will take little persuasion to realize that being a bomb technician in Iraq beats most other professions hands down.
The Hurt Locker throws us straight into the action. Literally from the first scene, we are brutally exposed to what it feels like to be part of a squad that has to fear for their lives wherever they go. The nowadays so common shaky camera is used – not gratuitously however – to make us feel like we’re in the middle of the proceedings. And it works a trick as you are biting your nails from the opening credits until the very end.
I’ve never been much of a fan of the Star Wars or Star Trek franchises of movie making, but I do love a good, straightforward science fiction film on the rare occasion that one makes it to the big screen. After what seems like a very long wait, that occasion has finally arrived. Last night Geoffrey and I were squealing like little piggies with excitement at a screening of the new Peter Jackson produced film, District 9; a film that everyone will be talking about. Directed spectacularly by first time director Neill Blomkamp, this film has a seemingly simple plot which unfolds into one of the deepest, most thought-provoking back stories I can recall seeing in a film in possibly decades. I fucking loved this movie.
District 9’s basic plot centers on a race of aliens that made first contact with Earth over twenty years ago, when their spaceship became dysfunctional over the South African town of Johannesburg. Lacking an ulterior motive of taking over the earth, these aliens were refugees, the last survivors of their home world. The creatures have been set up in a shanty town slum known as District 9 while the government tries to figure out what to do with them. When the public’s patience over the alien situation runs out, the government contracts Multi-National United (MNU), a private company, to relocate them to a newer, more remote tent village. MNU employees are also told to confiscate any alien weaponry – which the government has been unable to make use of, as activation of the weaponry requires alien DNA.
The tension between aliens and humans comes to a head when an MNU field operative, Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley, in a truly amazing performance), makes contact with a mysterious fluid that begins changing his DNA. Wikus quickly becomes the most hunted man in the world, as well as the most valuable – as he is now capable of unlocking the secrets of alien technology. Ostracized and friendless, District 9 is only place left for him to hide. The entire film is shot documentary style and every frame of it feels like something that could happen at any moment. Danger lurks around every corner and the tension is frightening and palpable. During the film I was reminded of memorable sci-fi flicks like The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Fly and the most obvious comparison, Alien Nation. Yet, despite recognizable similarities to other films of the genre, District 9 feels completely fresh and unique. It should also be noted that Blomkamp is a South African native who was obviously influenced and sensitized by having experienced first hand the now mercifully defunct, racist practice of Apartheid. District 9 is brutal and unflinching, bringing a high-tech horror movie aesthetic to smart science fiction.
Having garnered nearly universally positive press and pre-release word-of-mouth, District 9 is already being called the best Science Fiction film of the 21st Century so far. I can’t wait to see it again.
District 9 Opens in Theaters on August 14th.
Everyone reading this needs to go see the movie Little Miss Sunshine as soon as possible. It’s so hilarious and so heartfelt, it is just insane. It is even better than Napolean Dynamite, a film I’ve seen about 20 times and own on DVD. Just go; go now.